Ethelfleda: The Marital Wife of Etheldred, Earl of MerciaEthelfleda
The Marital Wife of Etheldred, Earl of Mercia
869 – 918 A.D.

Ethelfleda, eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, and sister of Edward I., king of the West Saxons, was wife to Etheldred, Earl of Mercia. She was of masculine temperament and, after the birth of her first child, she made a vow of chastity and united with her husband in his profession of arms. She retained a cordial friendship for her husband and together they performed numerous acts of munificence and valor. Together they assisted Alfred in his wars against the Danes, whom they prevented the Welsh from succoring. Not less pious than valiant, they restored cities, founded abbeys, and protected the bones of departed saints.

After the death of her husband, in 912, Ethelfleda assumed the government of Mercia; and, emulating her father and brother, commanded armies, fortified towns, and prevented the Danes from re-settling in Mercia. The, carrying her victorious arms into Wales, she compelled the Welsh, after several victories, to become her tributaries. In 918 she took Derby from the Danes; and in 920 Leicester and York. Having become famed for her spirit and courage, the titles of lady and queen were judged inadequate to her merit, and, in addition to these, she received those of lord and king.

Her courage and activity were employed in the service of her country till her death, in 922, at Tamworth, in Staffordshire, where she was defending against the Danes. Her body was interred on the porch of the monastery of St. Peter, in Gloucester, which she had in concert with her husband erected. She left one daughter, Elswina.

The death of Ethelfleda was deeply regretted by the whole kingdom, especially by her brother Edward, to whom she proved equally serviceable in the cabinet and in the field. Ingulphus, the historian, speaks of the extraordinary courage and other masculine virtues of his princess, and pays tribute to her diplomatic skill as well as to her martial qualities.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.